This week's Fantasy Index Weekly is available now.
CINCINNATI (vs. Denver):
Posted Oct. 31 at 10:41 AM
Sitting at 3-4, the Bengals could really use a win to put themselves back in the thick of the playoff race, but that looks unlikely to happen. The Broncos are playing well on both sides of the ball; their defense is really starting to come to come together. It’s a group that has a good chance of harassing Cincinnati’s offense into another subpar effort. The Bengals have scored only 13 and 17 points in their last two home games (losses to the Dolphins and Steelers). ... Andy Dalton was putting up big numbers earlier in the year, but he’s slipping now. He could get the Bengals past Cleveland, where he threw 3 interceptions, and he couldn’t move the offense with any consistency in the losses to Miami and Pittsburgh. In those games, Dalton completed only 40 of 71 (56 percent) for 339 yards, with 2 TDs and 3 interceptions. He gets another one of those kind of defenses this week. Denver ranks just 10th against the pass, but it’s actually a lot better than that. It’s a group that’s played capable veteran quarterbacks every week -- Brees, Brady, Ryan, Roethlisberger, Rivers, Palmer and Schaub. Considering whom they’ve played, it’s remarkable they’re allowing under 60 percent completions and just 233 passing yards per game, with 13 TDs and 7 interceptions. Dalton isn’t in that upper level yet, and you get the feeling Denver will be able to frustrate him for long stretches of this game. As often as the Bengals pass the ball, it’s tough to hold Dalton under 260 yards and 2 TDs -- especially at Paul Brown Stadium -- but that’s what we’re expecting. We’re thinking he’s more likely to wind up with 220 yards and just one touchdown. The overall trends work in Dalton’s favor. The Bengals can’t run the ball worth a damn, so when you combine Cincinnati’s offense and Denver’s defense, you see 27 TD passes and only 7 TD runs, a ratio of about 4-to-1. If you figure on a ratio of about 80 percent of touchdowns coming on passes, that makes it unlikely Dalton will finish with only one touchdowns. But suffice to say we don’t have much interest in the Red Rifle this week. ... A.J. Green comes off the worst game of his career -- just 1 catch for 8 yards against Pittsburgh. The other 5 balls thrown his way were incomplete. He’s a talented guy (too talented, really for the vast majority of fantasy teams to even consider benching). But this is a lousy matchup for him. We’re already documented how the passing game in general should struggle, and Champ Bailey is playing at an elite level right now. He’s been in Darrelle Revis mode this season. The Broncos are putting him on other teams’ No. 1 receivers, and he’s taking those guys away.
That’s a nice rack of seven receivers Bailey has faced (all working with capable quarterbacks), and they’ve combined to catch only 27 passes for 291 yards and 2 TDs in almost half of a season. So our hunch is Green probably will have a so-so game, finishing with something like 4 catches for 55 yards. As talented as he is, we would advise that if a fantasy teams has the other wide receivers in place, this would be the week that maybe you sit Green down. That said, we are obligated to point out that Green has scored six weeks in a row, and a couple of weeks back he shredded a similarly talented corner (Joe Haden) for 157 yards and 2 TDs. But in the Georgia-v-Georgia matchup, we expect it will be Bailey who comes out on top. ... With the Broncos seeming to have the league’s best pair of cornerbacks right now (they’ve also got Tracy Porter), we’re going higher than usual on Jermaine Gresham. We think he’ll play a bigger role in the offense than usual. He’s a good tight end anyway, and we think Dalton will want to stay away from those corners. Denver has allowed more touchdown passes to tight ends (6) than to wide receivers (5). We believe Gresham is more likely than Green to score in this game. ... The Bengals will throw a cast of other wide receivers out there. Armon Binns, Brandon Tate, Andrew Hawkins. Youngsters Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu have been pressing for more playing time. Hawkins is a neat little slot receiver; he could play a decent role in this game. But we don’t see any of these guys are viable options in any kind of traditional fantasy format we’re aware of. ... The Bengals could be having buyer’s remorse with BenJarvus Green-Ellis. There’s a reason he entered the league as an undrafted free agent way back when -- he’s too slow. He’s just a guy, as they say. He would be an average backup tailback on most rosters. He’s averaging only 3.4 yards per carry and 62 yards per game, with 2 TDs. Not much of a receiver, either. Denver has an average run defense, so we’re putting Green-Ellis down for his usual type of production. ... The Bengals Defense looks like a lesser unit this week. It’s got one of the better pass rushers, but Peyton Manning simply doesn’t make many mistakes. He’s been sacked only 10 times, and he’s thrown only 4 interceptions (3 of those came in that one quarter in Week 2 down at Atlanta).
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